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Suggestion about flying earplugs
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An_242263 posted:
Hi Dr. Moser, here i am writing again about 2 questions - around a year ago you were very helpful regarding my questions and from there i started paying attention to take good care of my ears. No more loud concerts without plugs. Tinnitus sound is stable and happy despite the damage...

However i still suffer from a frequent right Eustachian tube dysfunction which comes and go alone. The ENT taking care during that time told me that i shouldn't worry about. The pressure behind the ear is not a pleasant felling and don't know why this only happens to the right ear. To add insult to injury, I'm noticing there is some hearing loss from the right side: i notice stereo music sounds better on the left side instead of the right - i have to tweak the pan a little to the right to make them sound equal. 3 months i was called for the last hearing test which resulted good, however the tympanometry of the right ear was slightly different (during the test, yes, i had pressure behind ear). What is your opinion? The pressure still concerns me but now the hearing loss thing is not easing my mind...

Also, i will go abroad in a couple of days - i bought a pair of flying earplugs that are suppose to 'equalize the ears' while in the air. Are they safe?

Thank you for your precious time Dr.
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD responded:
As you may know, we are not equal on both sides of our body, and this includes the Eustachian tubes. One side can be normal, and the other e-tube could be compromised, or in your case, partially compromised. It may be something that is anatomical, and not due to infection or inflammation. Basically, your right t-ube could be partially compromised most of the time, and made worse periodically when you have a cold or experience changes in altitude. I am not sure what types of treatment you have tried, but decongestants prior to flying (even a short-acting nasal decongestant) could help, but there are not guarantees. Some medical providers use nasal corticosteroids, but since you are leaving in a few days, it is not likely they will offer you any immediate help or protection.

Some people swear by equalizing ear plugs, but others have not found them helpful. Personally, I never tried them and do have my doubts as to their overall effectiveness. Not all flights will cause ANY problems, so if you happen to be using the plugs at that time and don't have problems, you may falsely credit them as the reason. You will just have to try them over and over, and see how they work for you.

Landing, especially rapid descents, are the worst for ears. Some airports have long, gradual descents and combined with automatic cabin depressurization, the vast number of people do not have problems -- even those with known Eustachian tube problems.